Wednesday, March 28, 2012

custody - relocation

Superior Court - March 27, 2012

Denial of mother's relocation petition affirmed.

Mother's move held to be a "relocation, " i.e. “[a] change in residence of the child which significantly impairs the ability of a non-relocating party to exercise custodial rights.” 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5322(a).

Based on a thorough review of the record and the relocation factors contained in § 5337(h) that the trial court correctly determined that Mother’s proposed move significantly impairs Father’s ability to exercise his custodial rights. The trial court discerned that Child enjoys a very close relationship with Mother and Father, and that Father “has had regular and continued involvement co-parenting in different aspects of the minor child’s life that go beyond his periods of partial physical custody.” Competent record evidence reveals Father’s active involvement in Child’s sporting events and his desire to coach Child. The evidence also shows that Father is involved in school activities, including meetings with teachers and school authorities, and medical appointments.

Father, who is an equipment operator, is able to arrange his schedule in order to attend many of Child’s school and sports functions. The record confirms the trial court’s conclusion that Mother’s proposed relocation would break the continuity and frequency of Father’s involvement with Child and therefore threatens significant impairment of Father’s ability to exercise his
custodial rights. Mother’s offer of additional custodial time for Father would not ameliorate these adverse effects. See 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5337(h)(3). Accordingly, Mother’s proposed move constitutes relocation within the meaning of § 5322(a).

In addition, the trial court determined and the evidence supports the finding that the advantages of the proposed move are minor, at best.

Therefore, after a careful review of the record certified on appeal, we conclude that the trial court did not err in finding that Mother failed to meet her burden of proving that relocation to Albion with Child, together with a related modification of the parties’ custody arrangement, would be in Child’s best interest. Landis v. Landis, 869 A.2d 1003, 1011 (Pa. Super. 2005).